When ‘Ulaga Nayagan’ Kamal Hassan flew down to Kochi for the promotion of Vishwaroopam 2, he received a grand welcome that would have done any Malayali proud. There was a performance by a band followed by his entry in the midst of a bevy of performers who danced him to his seat and then went on to give an electric dance performance. So when Kamal began his speech by saying Ellarkkum Namaskaram, he made it a point to mention his gratitude for those who made the function so grand. He also went on to state that coming to Kerala was like returning home. The actor has always taken pride in repeating that he is a half-Malayali — so close is his relationship with Kerala. He lets on a tidbit, “Our distribution company Raj Kamal films had its office in Kerala initially for several years but later we had to move it to Chennai. I have also lived in Kerala.”
Accompanying the actor on stage were actor Pooja Kumar and editor Mahesh Narayanan. The actor/producer/director’s bilingual thriller Vishwaroopam 2 has emerged as one of the most anticipated sequels in the history of TamiI cinema. The action-spy thriller has been written, directed and co-produced by Kamal Haasan himself. The high- octane action sequences have whetted the appetite of an expectant audience waiting with bated breath for the heroics of Wisam Ahmad Kashmiri. This time around, Vishwaroopam 2 promises to be steeper, faster and more thrilling. The film will also explore the back stories and the relationship between the lead characters in detail.
Kamal says, “The film is special for us because we have worked really hard on it. Actually, the shooting for the film was supposed to be completed four years ago when 98 per cent of the film was over. But it did not happen as planned. The reasons are known to all — silly political reasons — but the film has surmounted all that and come out triumphant!” Even at that point, I was always confident about my film. The only point of worry as a filmmaker when I revived the film was about the technology used,” going on to explain, “In four years, technology would have changed and I was worried if I could stand up to the scrutiny of the audience. But we saw it again and after reviewing it, we felt that fortunately and kindly for us, our industry is going slow technology wise and we decided that we were on time!”
Kamal adds that he is very confident the film will stand the test of time. You would have to be living under a rock to be unaware of the controversy that the first part generated on account of its depiction of the Muslim community and the subsequent Tamil Nadu ban on the film by the then Chief Minister Jayalalithaa. Much water has flown under the bridge now and Jayalalithaa is no more and Kamal has launched his own political party. Vishwaroopam 2 has retained most of the key cast. Pooja Kumar, Andrea, Rahul Bose, Anand Mahadevan and Shekhar Kapur will be continuing with their roles. Kamal reveals that though tagged a sequel, he made it as one single film but in two segments and calls it unique that way. “For us, it is one single effort!” He also heaps praise on his technicians especially the Malayali editor Mahesh Narayanan and his cast. “I am sure that you all will like the film. We have done our best and the rest of it is up to the audience,” he says.
The actor / director also mentions he has and will always look forward to comments from his Kerala audience because the state has emerged as an important filmmaking hub of the country. He also has a confession to make and says, “Twenty five years back, I was angry at the kind of films being made here but you people took the criticism well. Now, I keep bragging about Malayalam films and ask people to go see the film laboratory in Kerala!” He urged all the filmmakers in Kerala to keep the flag flying high because the whole country was watching the kind of films that Kerala was making. Though the media was asked to desist from asking political and personal questions, it was like asking a bee sitting on a flower not to sip nectar. Faced with the question of ‘as a politician and actor what his opinion was of uniting against intolerant voices’, Kamal in his frank, no-holds-barred manner replied, “This is our 71 st year of Independence and a time for self-examination. We are being very complacent about our freedom but not responsible! If you sitting in Kerala ask me if we are becoming intolerant, the answer is yes! The whole nation is becoming intolerant and I am shocked that Kerala too is toeing that line!” he sadly says about a state that prides itself on being called a highly literate one.
Asked if Viswaroopam 2 reflected his political ideology, Kamal states the film was not made with the express wish to do that but agrees that it does have shades of his political reflections. He goes on to opine, “If you want to see my direct political ideology then that film would be Hey Ram, which is a very strong political film.” Elaborating on his goals, he comments, “I am looking at achievable goals. The primary reason why I joined politics is topical but not limited to colloquial. If you improve a state, you improve a country. There is nothing to be proud of about Tamil Nadu, which is steeped in corruption and stagnant in progress. Whatever is good for Tamil Nadu, we will go in that direction and that is the right way of doing politics.”
He says that ideologies need to carefully chosen and strongly says, “We are not opportunists but we are using our opportunities.” Before ending he says he has no doubts about his film and concludes, “As a film fan, what I want to see is what I have presented and I have high hopes pinned on Vishwaroopam 2.”...